Excelsior Springs, MO

Historic Elms Hotel and Spa has had a long journey to excellence and is over 100 years old

CJ Coombs

The Elms Hotel, Excelsior Springs, Missouri.Photo byAmericasroof, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Elms Hotel and Spa in Excelsior Springs, Missouri was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 29, 1985.

The architectural firm was Jackson & McIlvain and the architectural designs include Tudor Revival and Gothic Revival. This structure is a historic resort located at Regent and Elms Boulevard.

The Elms Hotel in Excelsior Springs, Missouri remains to testify not only to the extravagant tastes expressed by resort architecture in the Victorian age, but also to the premier role held by the town of Excelsior Springs as a popular health resort from before the turn of the century until approximately 1930. (Source.)

This hotel does have an interesting history. Originally, on the hotel site was a resort with 200 rooms that opened in July 1888. A year later 75 rooms were added. On May 9, 1898, it was destroyed by fire.

On July 31, 1909, the second Elms Hotel opened with 300 rooms. It, too, was destroyed by fire on October 30, 1910. The next Elms Hotel was constructed of steel frame and reinforced concrete. It reopened on September 7, 1912. During Prohibition, the hotel was a speakeasy. The building is of steel frame and reinforced concrete construction.

Al Capone, “Pretty Boy” Floyd, and Bugsy Moran reportedly hosted illegal gambling and bathtub gin parties. Police tried to raid The Elms during Prohibition on several occasions. (Source.)

In 1922, the Elms Realty Company sold the Elms Hotel to Dr. A. S. McCleary who operated the Kansas City Sanitarium, and in 1925, he sold it to the Roberts Hotel Company from Chicago.

In 1932, the Eppley Hotel Company chain purchased the hotel after it was declared bankrupt. When President Harry S. Truman stayed at the Elms prior to learning of his victory, this brought some publicity to the hotel.

In 1956, the Sheraton Corporation purchased the Eppley chain said to be the second-biggest hotel sale in U.S. history.

Using a dime-store pen, Sheraton Corp.'s President Ernest Henderson and Vice President Robert L. Moore signed an agreement to buy the 22-hotel Eppley chain, largest and oldest personally owned hotel group in the U.S. Its 22 properties in six states range from Pittsburgh's 1,500-room William Penn to the 123-room Tallcorn in Marshalltown, Iowa. Price: $30 million. (Source.)

Interestingly, the Elms was sold by Sheraton, but in 1960, it acquired it again after it went bankrupt. At that point, it was renamed the Sheraton-Elms Hotel. In 1968, Sheraton sold the Elms and 17 other older properties to Gotham Hotels. The Elms returned to its original name and closed in 1971.

In 1977, the hotel was purchased by local citizens and reopened. Again, in 1991, the hotel went bankrupt, however, it kept operating.

The city leaders continued to search for the proper buyers for The Elms. At the same time, the IRS was aggressively looking to collect on unpaid back taxes. To prevent the hotel from closing its doors, the city created a new organization to help transition the hotel to new investors. (Source.)
The Elms (photo taken in 2011).Photo byMelissa Kothe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1995, the City of Excelsior Springs purchased the hotel and it was renovated in 1998 for $16 million. It closed in 2011 for another renovation costing $20 million and had a grand reopening in 2012. The Elms, believe it or not, was sold to Hilton Properties in 2019 and was scheduled for more renovations in 2021. What a journey. After major renovations, The Elms Hotel and Spa is a Destination by Hyatt Hotel. Click here to see everything this venue has to offer.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms. Thinker, giver, and lover of life and retired early to be a writer. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO

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